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Jerry Kill collapses from seizure during game

The incident over-shadowed a loss in which the U was heavily favored.
Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill is rushed off the field after collapsing with 20 seconds to go in the fourth quarter on Saturday at TCF Bank.
Image by Mark Vancleave
Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill is rushed off the field after collapsing with 20 seconds to go in the fourth quarter on Saturday at TCF Bank.

Gophers head coach Jerry Kill  is in stable condition in an area hospital after he suffered a seizure and collapsed on the sideline during the seasonâÄôs first home game Saturday.

Kill, who has a history of seizures, was seen thrashing on the ground with his legs kicking violently as trainers attempted to tend to him Saturday.

It was a surreal environment inside TCF Bank Stadium as the arena fell silent and nearly all players took a knee and tried to comprehend what was going on with their coach.

Team physician J. Patrick Smith addressed the media shortly after the game and confirmed it was a seizure. Kill has a history of seizures ever since undergoing surgery in 2005 for kidney cancer. Smith also said Kill has been taking medication to prevent seizures.

Smith announced in a press release that all tests performed on Kill on Sunday morning came back normal, and his condition continues to improve.
The doctors believe the seizure was instigated by the heat and the fit was probably incited by dehydration.

Prior to the medical stoppage, Minnesota was driving down the field in a hurry-up offense. With 20 seconds remaining in the game, just prior to a fourth-and-10 play, players began gathering around the coach.

It wasnâÄôt immediately clear what was happening, but when trainers began tending to the collapsed coach, his legs began thrashing violently.

The stadium remained eerily quiet as spectators tried to come to grips with the situation at hand. Time crawled for nearly 10 minutes until the medical crew was able to load Kill onto a stretcher and wheel him out of the stadium with an IV in his arm.

It became known after the game that the cause of the long stoppage was the medical staff waiting for the seizure to subside and also for sedatives to take effect. Smith said KillâÄôs vital signs remained stable throughout the process and that he was never in immediate life-threatening danger.

Kill was transferred to an area hospital, though Smith didnâÄôt specify which one.

He was reportedly stable and awake at the hospital later that night, medicated but able to talk with his wife, Rebecca.

The stadium cheered as Kill was carted off the field. Twenty seconds still remained in a game where the Gophers trailed heavy underdog New Mexico State.

MinnesotaâÄôs offense took the field and tried in vain to amp up the crowd as the stadium speakers blared âÄúGet behind your teamâÄù in the fourth-and-long play with the game on the line.

It seemed inconsequential that the Gophers failed to convert the first down as quarterback MarQueis Gray was hit in the backfield and rifled the ball almost straight up in the air. The ball was batted around a bit before falling incomplete to seal the defeat.

The Aggies took the field and kneeled to expire the remaining seconds on the clock and complete the victory. Quarterback Andrew Manley celebrated with his teammates after taking the knee as a sparse population of AggiesâÄô fans cheered in the crowd, but all celebration was brief and subdued in light of what had just happened.

Minnesota players, who had to sit back and watch their coach receive treatment, walked toward the locker room sluggishly. Most had their chins on their chest, plodding with one foot in front of the other.

The players werenâÄôt left completely in the dark on KillâÄôs medical history, but the uncertainty of the severity of the situation may have left some players ill at ease.

âÄúItâÄôs scary, but at the same time weâÄôve been informed that itâÄôs happened before so we pray that the best thing happens âÄî that Coach gets well soon,âÄù senior running back Duane Bennett said. âÄúAs a player, you have to continue to have your focus on the field because we know that coach Kill would have wanted us to go out and execute regardless of whether he was there.âÄù

The head coach had a similar incident in 2005 while coaching with Southern Illinois University, KillâÄôs offensive and defensive coordinators said. Offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover, who has worked with Kill for 12 seasons, said it probably looked worse than it was. He added that the unknown was the scariest part for the players.

As for going forward, defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys, who has worked with Kill for 16 seasons, said Kill will be back to coaching shortly. âÄúHeâÄôs never missed a game,âÄù Claeys said.

Smith said he expects Kill to recover fully, but there was no timetable for his return to the team.

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